Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Agony, the Ecstasy, and the Drudgery

Two events have dominated my personal cosmos this week.

1. My fellow Red Sofa colleague (Sofette?) Jamie Wyman Reddy signed a contract with Covet Books, an imprint world in the Entangled Publishing star system, to publish her debut novel, Technical Difficulties. (That is a lot of modifying clauses, which gives you a sense of the excitement for this occasion!)

2. Without going into too much detail, one of my nearest and dearest has been diagnosed with an illness of the It's Pretty Much Downhill From Here varietal. This hasn't shattered my world, but has left a sizable crater, and prompted a modest remains-of-my-innocence extinction event.

(Y'all don't be reaching for the sympathy cards or anything - this is not cancer or Alzheimer's or anything else to make a Lifetime movie out of, and it's far less of a game-ender than an eventual game-changer.  There is still plenty of joy in Mudville.)  

Here's what those two things have in common.

Take a second and check out Jamie's epic publishing odyssey (a five-minute masterpiece of wit, gifs, and the universal energy source known as feels).  With entomological precision, she neatly pins down those multiple bouts of protracted uncertainty and fraught waiting-periods like so many unlovely butterflies.

And from what I can tell, that's about what medical anomalies tend to net you too.  You start with a lump or a cough or a tic, and wait for it to go away.  When it doesn't, you call the doc and wait for an appointment.  Then you go in and get a once-over and a referral.  Wait for another appointment.  Go to the specialist, get an appointment for a culture or a biopsy or what-not.  Wait for that.  Go in, get it done, and wait yet again - by this time, on the most agonizing rusted-out tenterhooks imaginable - to receive the verdict.

And are we done now?  Not hardly!  All of this was just to get the diagnosis, or to sign the contract.  There's all manner of waiting-times yet to come - to hear back from the publisher about revisions and royalties and release dates, to find out what and how much InsuriCare will spring for and whether you might could get accepted into a local research program - and here's the big thing:

You have to keep interrupting this massively important narrative arc to get your own stupid regular stuff done.

You know what I mean.  Jamie can be absolutely vibrating with tension as she waits to get that phone call, but she's still gotta collect her kidling and fix dinner for the fam.  I can stare down the abyss of mortality, but at some point I have to leave off long enough to go teach class.

This is what is so damn sexy about fiction.  Fiction is the ultimate fast-forward button.  It's the big-ass tub of nuts you can choff without having to stop and crack shells.  It's a magical road trip where your bladder's always empty and the gas tank is always full.  When it's time to be happy or sad or anxious or whatever, you can wallow in that one feeling exclusively - marinate in it! - because the fictioneer has thoughtfully excised all the irrelevant distracting parts that would take you out of the mood.

So there you have it.  Fiction is the luxury of singular focus, the pornography of time and theme.  That is probably not news to anyone, but I have to say, I have a new appreciation for all that artificial streamlining.  The alternative out here in the real world is vexing as hell!

You know the old saying, "Time flies when you're having fun?"  This is the dire half-dragon version of that.


  1. Have I told you lately that you rock my stripey socks? Seriously, woman, you're awesome.

    Many thanks for the shoutouts in this post. :-D

  2. Hey, you're the one who pulled on such eminently rockable socks. Thanks for blazing the trail - I am more than happy to strew confetti in your wake!

  3. I LOVE this post. It is so spot on. I appreciate your capacity to link these two experiences. It speaks to where my head is at just now.

  4. Thanks, Cynthia - you light up my life!

    Also: I have had a massive reply to your Twitter essay brewing for literally weeks now. As soon as I get home from work tonight, I am on that!